Today I am digging into Part 2 of my IE summer series. If you haven’t listened to part 1, all about ditching diets and making peace with food, I highly encourage you to go listen. My aim with this series is to give you short and sweet practical advice to begin to implement the ten principles of IE into your life.
Just a reminder, for those of you who don’t know what Intuitive Eating is, intuitive eating is a self care nutrition framework developed by dietitians Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole (who has been my mentor in becoming an intuitive eating counselor- I can vouch for how incredible she is!!) that is based on 10 principles, that has been verified by over 100 studies now to be effective in helping those that implement the principles become more in tune with their bodies, make peace with food, honor their hunger and fullness cues and nourish themselves without dieting. It’s not the hunger-and-fullness diet and it’s not a weight loss plan, but a framework to help you develop the skills to eat in a way that works for you.
To learn more about the 10 principles, check out Episode 004: The 10 Principles of IE.
Intuitive Eating Book:
Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch © 2012 St. Martin's Griffin; Third edition
In today's episode I am doing a deeper dive into two of my favorite concepts of IE: Principles 4 and 6, Challenge the Food Police and Discover the Satisfaction factor.
So WHO are the food police?
The food police are the voices in your head that keep you from making peace with food. They monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The very ones you are working on ditching! The IE book puts it this way: the police station is housed deep in your psyche, and it’s loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments.
Can anyone relate to that? I know I can. Chasing the food police away is one of the most powerful steps to truly eating intuitively.
But here is the cool part: the food police can actually transform. Rather than the berating voice of the food police, it can turn into the Nurturer, which disarms the verbal assault from the food police by reminding you to approach food from a place of self care. Another Food Police Voice, The Nutrition Informant, which keeps you stuck in food labels and macro counts, can transform into the nutrition ally who helps you make choices from a place of nourishment. The Food Anthropologist comes out as a neutral
observer that notices how your body and brain reacts to certain foods. It's non-judgmental and simply creates awareness and, in turn, trust, around food. The voices don’t have to all be bad! They CAN serve you and your relationship with food- it’s all about choosing the positive, reassuring Intuitive Eating voices over the ones that keep you stuck in fear and guilt.
So how do you identify if the food police is knocking at your door?
First examine your beliefs around food. Are you still struggling to make peace with all foods (no judgement if you are-- remember this is a journey!). Do you still identify food as good/bad? Do you still use phrases- or think phrases like:
This food has too many calories
Carbs are bad, you shouldn’t eat them.
Fat will make me fat
I’ve eaten too much already today
I shouldn’t eat this food
People should never eat sugar
Eating after dinner will make me gain weight
These are just a few examples. But these beliefs that affect our thoughts are called cognitive distortions. Strong statements based on false beliefs.
I can be helpful to examine WHERE these thoughts are coming from. Who told you these things? Was it a truly reputable source? Will this thought help you to become more attuned to your body’s innate cues? If the answer is no, it’s probably a food police thought.
Fighting against the food police begins by simply observing your thoughts. Then, you can start questioning those belief-thoughts.
It can also be helpful to reflect on past experiences. Did eating fat automatically make you fat? Did you somehow become bad for eating carbs (the answer is, of course no- Food has no reflection on our morality!)?
You can start to question the thought-- with what is a TRUE fact, what is something I- or the diet industry, made up to make me feel bad or create more rules around food- and how can you reframe the thought with actual facts and experiences?
Remember to avoid judging yourself for having these thoughts. Like with everything else in the journey to intuitive eating and tuning into your body, it’s a process. Remember to approach this with curiosity, rather than judgment.
Once we are in a position of ditching diets and making peace with food, ignoring and reframing the food police’s negative shouts, we can begin to choose foods that are ACTUALLY satisfying.
This is something I am actually spending an entire video lesson on in the Supermama Society, it’s such a big topic- but it’s a really important step in your IE journey, being able to choose foods that are actually satisfying. Now, when I say a food is satisfying I mean it’s satisfying to both your tastebuds as well as your body. It should be enjoyable AND keep you full, and not wanting more than your body needs.
The Intuitive Eating book talks about the Japanese and how they have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living. In our desire to be the healthiest we can be, we often overlook the GIFT of being able to enjoy our food!
When you eat what you really want, in a positive environment, you are content after meals. You’re not constantly searching in your cupboard to satisfy your cravings- you already have. These are things like allowing yourself to eat food in a preparation YOU enjoy, choosing the option that sounds the best even if it isn’t what you deem ‘the healthy option’-- because you will likely eat LESS of the food that is actually satisfying, than the one you eat in hopes of satisfaction. It also means learning what combination of foods keeps you full and energized, without judgment. The satisfaction factor is one of THE most enjoyable changes you can make to your whole eating experience, and one of the things that will propel you forward in your intuitive eating journey, because you can finally ENJOY food again.
The satisfaction factor is considered the hub in the center of the wheel of intuitive eating for a reason.
Each principle of intuitive eating- from ditching diets and making peace with food, to tuning into hunger and coping with emotions without using food, ensures MORE real satisfaction out of our foods. And, as we know, the more satisfying and enjoyable food, the less of it we need to be content, and our bodies can begin to find a natural place of balance and contentment and joy in eating.
1. Identify the voices in your head. Learning to identify which voices your food thoughts are coming from helps you decide what to do with that thought - should you listen, or challenge that thought? Is it a helpful voice, or a harmful voice?
2. Work on choosing satisfying foods. This starts with the food peace process-- having the ability to choose ANYTHING you want, and deciding from there what sounds good! Sometimes you’ll hit the mark, sometimes you won’t. What you begin to do is create a light mental structure for what meals make you feel good, which , knowing that this might change meal to meal and season to season. Sometimes you might be satisfied by a light salad with some protein, sometimes you need a heartier burger with fries to be satisfied- this is all a learning process and it’s part of the beauty of intuitive eating, being able to choose satisfying foods, learn what IS satisfying, and what isn’t- and make choices that serve you within that. For instance, sometimes I like a burger with the bun, and sometimes I know I’ll be just as satisfied with a lettuce wrap and a big portion of sweet potato fries. When I decide that no longer has to do with the food police voices in my head, but from a place of tuning into what my body needs in that moment.
3. Create a peaceful atmosphere around food. Lastly, aside from just tuning into the sensory qualities of food, it’s important to create a peaceful and satisfying ATMOSPHERE around food. I know this can be hard when you’re a mama, but how can you create more peace and calm to allow yourself to better tune into your meals? How can meals be less frantic and more mindful? Can you add some fresh flowers to the table, maybe a battery operated candle, sit down to eat, turn off the tv or phone and eat undistracted so you can enjoy the experience? What can you do to your physical environment to make eating more joyful?
Use this form to send in a question for my end-of-series Q + A.
Remember I’m always here for one-on-one intuitive eating and nutrition coaching. Book a free 45-minute discovery session to decide if working together is the next step in your food freedom journey.